Khairpur Police on Wednesday arrested Pir Asad Shah Jeelani of Ranipur over his alleged role in the torture and murder of a 10-year-old girl employed as a domestic helper in his home.
Local media reported that 10-year-old Fatima had been working as a maid at Jeelani’s home when she suddenly collapsed and could not be revived. CCTV footage provided to police by the accused appears to support this, as it shows the victim collapsing without warning. Jeelani’s family, per media, subsequently informed the girl’s mother of her death, and asked her to remove the body from the premises.
Speaking with media, Fatima’s mother Shamim Khatoon said she had brought her daughter to work at the house because two of her other daughters were already employed there. She said her daughter had been buried near their hometown of Khanwah in Naushahro Feroz.
Police have lodged a case against Jeelani on the complaint of Khatoon under sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and formed an investigation team to probe the incident. Speaking with media, DIG Sukkur Javed Jiskani confirmed that the team had already sought the exhumation of the victim’s body to verify the allegations of torture. He also confirmed that the local station house office had been suspended over his failure to identify the torture, noting the official had been present in hospital when the girl was pronounced dead.
Initially, per reports, the girl’s father had maintained that she died due to gastroenteritis, as pinpointed by doctors when she was taken to a private hospital on the night of Aug. 14. She died shortly after being discharged, with concerns arising over alleged torture after videos were leaked on social media showing marks on her body. SSP Shikarpur Rohal Khan Khoso, who is on the investigation team, said the victim’s mother had only been willing to speak to police after much cajoling and convincing that police would take up the matter of their own accord if she did not become a plaintiff.
According to remarks attributed to Khatoon, her daughter had a fractured arm, as well as bruises on her body, especially around her neck and belly. Police have told media they would also conduct a DNA test on the exhumed body if there were any indication of sexual assault.
The Jeelani family is well-known in Khairpur as the Pirs of Ranipur. The parents of the victim are reportedly the followers of the Pir.
The suspect has denied all charges, maintaining that the girl had complained of pain in her stomach for which she was being treated at home. He has claimed she died during the treatment. He has also demanded a “fair inquiry,” alleging the case is a “conspiracy” to tarnish his family’s name.